Amy Tan Fish Cheeks Essay

488 Words2 Pages
Famous fashion designer Alexander McQueen “came to terms with not fitting in a long time ago… [He] never really fitted in... [He doesn’t] want to fit in.” “Fish Cheeks”, a short story by Amy Tan, is a short memoir concerning Amy, an Asian American embarrassed by her family’s cultural antics. When her family invites the mayor’s family to a Christmas dinner, Amy is repulsed and disgusted by her family’s rude behavior until her mother tells her to embrace who she is. The author of the short story utilizes sensory detail and indirect characterization to show that one will find it difficult to become something they are not.

Sensory detail is a vital way authors show a story’s theme to the reader. For instance, Amy nauseatingly describes how
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Essentially, Amy, upon hearing that Robert and his family were visiting for Christmas dinner, worried what “Robert would think of… [her] shabby Chinese Christmas… What would he think of [her] noisy Chinese relatives who lacked proper American manners… What terrible disappointment would he feel upon seeing not a roasted turkey and sweet potatoes but Chinese food” (Tan 353). The way Amy fretted about Robert being disappointed with her cultural differences gives you an image of Amy’s personality: Insecure, vain and embarrassed by her culture. Also, Amy describes her culture as if it were a bad thing, and describing the American culture as a good and proper thing: She did not want to fit into her Chinese culture, but instead Robert’s American culture. Through the use of indirect characterization, the author shows the reader that trying to fit in never really works.

To summarize, the author of “Fish Cheeks” use sensory detail and indirect characterization to show that one should not try to fit in, but instead embrace who they are. Amy represents an insecure, culturally different teenager who tries to fit in. However, by worrying about fitting in and being embarrassed by her culture she forgets about all the values of that Christmas dinner: After all, her mother made her all her favorite foods. Maybe the next person to read “Fish Cheeks” will realize that they could be happy and appreciate
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